Defoe is one bright spot in England injury gloom
Fabio Capello named an injury-ravaged squad for England's first two Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland but has won his battle to persuade Jermain Defoe to delay an operation on his groin.
The Tottenham striker is in the squad, having postponed the operation after he came through Spurs' Champions League qualifier second leg against Young Boys on Wednesday. Defoe also played in the defeat to Wigan on Saturday. His inclusion is the biggest boost for Capello among much bad news.
Defoe's fellow Spurs striker Peter Crouch, injured in the Wigan game, had a scan yesterday that revealed he has ripped muscles in his back. Crouch, who was left out the previous post-World Cup England squad, is a serious doubt to be fit to play against Bulgaria on Friday. He could be fit for the game against Switzerland four days later, though.
With Capello's England regime at a low ebb, and a difficult trip to Basle next week, it is an unfortunate time to be hit with so many injuries. He is without Frank Lampard, whose hernia operation could not be delayed, while John Terry is also out, having damaged his glute and hamstring muscles during Chelsea's win over Stoke City on Saturday.
The Chelsea captain's absence means that Capello is facing a serious problem in the centre of defence. Terry and captain Rio Ferdinand are injured, Ledley King was not fit enough to be selected and Jamie Carragher is in international retirement once again. As things stand, his first-choice pairing is Michael Dawson and Phil Jagielka, who have five caps between them.
There were recalls for Matthew Upson and Shaun Wright-Phillips, both World Cup players who were left out of the last squad to face Hungary earlier this month. Bobby Zamora, also injured on Saturday, is out of the squad, having made his debut against Hungary. Joleon Lescott, who missed the World Cup through injury, is included.
Capello's new third-choice goalkeeper David Stockdale injured himself playing for Fulham against Blackpool at the weekend and his absence means a reprieve for Scott Carson, who last played for England against Germany in November 2008. It would have been Robert Green but he too has an operation scheduled for an international week and is unavailable.
Surprisingly, there is no call-up for Tom Huddlestone, the Tottenham midfielder who has impressed so much this season. Instead, Michael Carrick was picked ahead of him, despite the fact that Carrick has played just 16 minutes of football for Manchester United since the Community Shield game.
It also emerged yesterday that Jack Wilshere, now back in the Under-21s after making his senior debut against Hungary, was arrested in the early hours of yesterday morning and bailed by police. A statement on behalf of the player said that he was unlikely to face charges. "He [Wilshere] is an important witness to the incident and played the role of peacemaker and is unlikely to face any charges as a result," it read.
Chelsea claimed yesterday that Terry's withdrawal had been managed in conjunction with the FA and that the national team's doctors were satisfied that there was good reason for him not to play. The Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti, revealed that Lampard's groin problem was longstanding and that he played on Saturday having struggled with it all week.
Ancelotti said: "He [Lampard] has a problem on his groin. He had surgery [on the same injury] 10 years ago and this week was not very good. He also didn't feel well in the game. So the only solution is to have surgery this week, maybe he will do this [tomorrow] or Wednesday. It means he is not able to play for the national team.
"He'll be ready in one week or two weeks. We have experience because it is the same surgery as [Didier] Drogba and Drogba took one week before he was able to train. It is not a big problem. It is very easy surgery but he needs it because he started to feel pain."
In the past Capello has taken a militant stand on clubs scheduling operations for players during international weeks. He took on Rafael Benitez in public fashion when the then Liverpool manager withdrew Steven Gerrard in November 2008 with an adductor muscle injury. Capello called the player to the England headquarters so he could be checked by his own medical staff in what was regarded as a rebuke to Benitez.
Capello is not in a strong position after England's dismal World Cup performances and he appears to have had another change of heart with the announcement that David Beckham will once again be under consideration when he is fit again.
To play Bulgaria and Switzerland in Euro 2012 qualifiers:
Goalkeepers: S Carson (WBA), B Foster (Birmingham City), J Hart (Man City).
Defenders: G Cahill (Bolton), A Cole (Chelsea), M Dawson (Tottenham), K Gibbs (Arsenal), P Jagielka (Everton), G Johnson (Liverpool), J Lescott (Man City), M Upson (West Ham).
Midfielders: G Barry (Man City), M Carrick (Man United), S Gerrard (Liverpool), A Johnson, J Milner (both Man City), T Walcott (Arsenal), S Wright-Phillips (Man City), A Young (Aston Villa).
Strikers: D Bent (Sunderland), C Cole (West Ham), P Crouch, J Defoe (both Tottenham), W Rooney (Man United).
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